Golden Basketball Magazine
April 14, 2019

"One day of practice is like one day of clean living. It doesn't do you any good."

Abe Lemons (Coach at Oklahoma City U. 1955-73, Pan American 1974-75, and Texas 1976-82)

Tiger Den Basketball

LSU Post-Season Games - 1954

Senior Bob Pettit led the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year.

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NBA Finals - Game 7: 1955

Fort Wayne Pistons @ Syracuse Nationals

A monumental rules change made NBA basketball so much more interesting in 1954-55.

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Basketball Quiz

What name did Coach Nolan Richardson give to Arkansas' pressure defense during the 1990s?

  1. Amoeba Defense
  2. Forty Minutes of Hell
  3. The Freak
  4. The Pressure Cooker

Origin of Basketball
24 Seconds to Shoot, Leonard Koppett (1968)
All other popular games - baseball, football, hockey, tennis, boxing, wrestling, fencing, and all the various types of races and field events - evolved gradually, through generations of informal practice. The final, familiar rules were distilled from countless trial-and-error experiments, long after the popularity of the activity had proved itself.
Basketball, on the other hand, was invented from scratch by James Naismith in 1891 in Springfield MA. He had a very specific, and limited, purpose: to provide an athletic activity, more enjoyable than calisthenics, that could be engaged in during the winter months, indoors, when it was not possible (in New England) to play baseball or football ...
Naismith's needs were specific, too. He was an instructor in physical education, attending the International Young Men's Christian Association Training School at Springfield MA. His orientation was towards physical fitness. The competitive side of athletics was, for him, a stimulant that made exercise more pleasurable and attractive, not an end in itself - and certainly not the raw material for entertaining spectators. His ideals were those of the participant and the amateur,and his search was for an indoor game that groups of men could play with a great deal of exertion in a small place.
So, in his little gymnasium which had a running track circling the floor like a balcony, he hung two peach baskets, one at each end; he got a soccer ball; and he divided his class (18 men) into two teams. The idea was to throw the ball into the basket. The rules of play were almost automatically determined by the conditions. Purposeful blocking and tackling couldn't be allowed on a wooden floor, and would make progress impossible anyhow; but unopposed running with the ball in such a small space would make the offense unstoppable.

L-R: James Naismith, YMCA basketball team c. 1900
Therefore, the ball had to be either bounced (dribbled) or passed to another player; and defenders had to devise ways of "guarding" that still permitted the offensive player enough freedom to throw the ball to a teammate or at the basket. Thus, the basic characteristics of the game - that undue interference by the defense was a "foul," and that artificial means (dribbling or passing) had to be used to advance the ball - were built in from the start.
The problems were built in from the start, too: exactly how much body-contact constituted a foul? When did a legal dribble slip over into "traveling"? When was the offensive player responsible for contact and a foul, and when the defensive player? These intrinsically borderline judgments, always affected by angle o vision and the subjective reaction of the observer, put a tremendous burden on the referee. His decisions, inevitably had a greater effect on the outcome than in other games, and this feature of basketball has never been overcome with complete satisfaction.
However, as an exercise activity, with not too much attention to the score, it proved to be ideal, and an immediate hit with the participants. Within three years it had been introduced from coast to coast, by graduates of the Springfield classes and by active letter writing. Many who tried it immediately became addicts, and rules were quickly put into stable and standardized form.
By 1895, various YMCA teams were holding regional tournaments, and basketball players were taking the game into high schools and colleges. To the participants, the sugar-coating had become the main course.
And it was this instant popularity that generated serious difficulties. Naismith had done far more than he had imagined. The game was so fascinating that its competitive aspects could not be kept under control. The good athletes who tried it became, like all good athletes, intent on winning, and tournaments added to the incentive. With victory prized so highly, the game became rough, since there were few experienced referees and no effective ruling body. It became too rough to be looked upon, by YMCA administrators, as healthful exercise; nor could the presence of an increasing number of spectators, reacting passionately to their rooting interests, be fitted in to the YMCA program. ...
The YMCA, therefore, embarked on a campaign of de-emphasis, only a few years after popularizing the sport it had invented. It discouraged the formation of club teams, and the conducting of tournaments.